Sunday, October 5, 2014


Collected issues of Spain Gourmetour magazine.
Desperate to make room for an ever-expanding collection of kitchen props— napkins and placemats, cutlery, plates and bowls, cups and glasses—so essential for food photography, I started clearing out cupboards where I’ve stashed back issues of food magazines. Most of them I dumped.

Cupboards are full--need space for more stuff.

But, the stacks of SPAIN GOURMETOUR, a glossy magazine published three times a year from 1986 until 2012 by ICEX, the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade, to promote Spain’s food and wines, cuisine and culture abroad—they were a different matter.

I started leafing through them, intending to pull tear sheets of the articles I contributed and the reviews of my cookbooks. Elimination did not go well! I found so much to reread, so many wonderful photos, that I couldn’t bear to throw the magazines out!

SPAIN GOURMETOUR was never a “general interest” food mag. It was aimed at professionals within the sector, rather than at consumers. About half of the content was dedicated to Wine—the people who make it, grape varietals, regions, trends, individual bodegas (yes, advertisers merited editorial coverage—that was the point).

The remaining half, about food and travel, was why I saved the magazines. A two-part series about the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. An article by Antonio Muñoz Molina about “vernacular food.” One by Sonia Ortega (for many years the coodinator/editor of Spain Gourmetour), “La Vera, Away From It All,” about the birthplace of pimentón, the monastery at Yuste where Emperor Charles V retired from the world. In one great issue from 1995, appeared a very personal look inside Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli—way before he was acclaimed the best chef in the world—written by María José Sevilla; an article about Chupa Chups lollipops by Tom Burns, and one about bananas from the Canary Islands by Iñígo Moré.

Ajoarriero pictured in Spain Gourmetour #54.

I decided that before pitching out these magazines, I wanted to prepare some of the recipes from the magazine. I chose, from No. 54, 2001, “The New Spanish Chefs, Part 2,” by Vicky Hayward, with stunning photos by Toya Legido. This portrays seven chefs, each from a different area of Spain, and looks at recurrent themes that lie behind their work: the renovation of Spain’s regional cuisines, a shared belief in the importance of a personal cooking style; the pioneering role of self-taught cooks.

From these, I selected two recipes—one by Pepe Rodríguez Rey, chef of El Bohio in Illescas, Toledo (near Madrid) and one by José Carlos García, chef of the eponymous restaurant in Málaga. Both have since garnered a Michelin star and various gastronomy awards. Stepping from the kitchen into show-biz, Pepe Rodríguez Rey also is one of the judges on MasterChef España.

SPAIN GOURMETOUR, the magazine, was replaced by the on-line, digital web site,, which publishes excellent feature stories, background and information about everything from Spain’s gastronomy world (yes, even a bio about me). But, for me, it will never replace the magazine and the delight in opening up each new issue. Some of the issues of the magazine can be viewed at A daily blog update is at .

I chose these recipes because they were do-able—no unusual ingredients, tools or techniques required. No agar-agar or sous vide or nitrogen baths. I adjusted them a little bit, noted in ital. For example, I made the full recipe for the coca crust, but only prepared half the quantity of sardines (so I had dough for a pizza the following day).

All of these photos are mine--the ones from Spain Gourmetour are ever so much better!

Modernized version of salt-cod ajoarriero from La Mancha.
Salt-cod Ajoarriero with Manchego, Pine Kernels and Black Olives
(Recipe by Pepe Rodríguez Rey appeared in No. 54, 2001, of SPAIN GOURMETOUR.)

This recipe is based on a very old regional dish traditionally made just with salt-cod, potato, olive oil and garlic. In this version, gelatin is used instead of potatoes to thicken the cod puree.

Serves 4. (In small portions, as many as 8.)

250 g (8 oz) salt-cod fillet
250 ml (8 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
½ head of garlic, trimmed but not skinned
400 ml (13 fl oz) milk
1 ½ leaves of gelatin (3 g/1/8 oz), softened in water
(or, use 1 teaspoon gelatin granules, softened in ¼ cup of the milk)

To serve:
16 toasted pine kernels
8-12 black olives
4-cm (1 ½-in) thinly cut squares of mature Manchego cheese, rind removed
Fresh chives or parsley
Baby croûtons (dice and fry crisp in olive oil)
A little mild extra virgin olive oil

Soak the salt-cod in water for 24-36 hours, turning every four hours and replacing the water two to three times.When the salt is removed, skin the fish.

Warm the olive oil with the garlic over the lowest heat for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse.

Gently heat the salt-cod in milk (if using granulated gelatin, save out ¼ cup of milk) for 10-15 minutes. Remove the cod.

Soften the leaf gelatin in a cup of cold water, drain it. (If using granular gelatin, soften it in ¼ cup of the milk. Do not drain.) Dissolve the gelatin in the warm milk.

Puree the salt-cod in blender. Pour in the milk and then, slowly, beat in the olive oil until you have an emulsified puree. Leave to set in a cool place. (Refrigerate.)

Serve the ajoarriero slightly chilled or just below room temperature, spooning it on to each plate and scattering the pine kernels, olives and croûtons over the top. Finish with a little mild olive oil. Prop up a square of Manchego vertically against the mixture.

Coca with sardines, pumpkin jam, pistachio vinaigrette and almond sorbet.

Marinated Sardine and Pumpkin Jam Coca with Pistachios and Almond Gazpacho Sorbet
(Recipe by José Carlos García appeared in No. 54 of SPAIN GOURMETOUR.)

“The coca, something like a Spanish Mediterranean pizza, is inspired by the grilled sardines we eat on the beach here in Málaga.)

I suspect this recipe was originally made with marinated, raw sardines. I followed the instructions to “fry” the sardines in oil—but the silvery skins disappeared in frying, so mine did not resemble the magazine photo! It tasted wonderful, though—nice contrasts between the sweet jam, vinaigrette, crunchy nuts, cold “ice cream.”

See below for the “pumpkin jam.”

Serves 4 (or more, if you use the quantities given)

1 kg (2 lb) fresh sardines, filleted
600 ml (20 fl oz) white wine vinegar
150 ml (5 fl oz) water
60 g (2 oz) sea salt
**3-4 tbsp angel’s hair or other pumpkin jam
Hojiblanca varietal olive oil, for shallow-frying
Large pinch of Maldon salt flakes
10 ml (2 tsp) Sherry vinegar

Pastry for the coca:
500 g (1 lb) patisserie flour
20 g (just over ½ oz) fresh yeast, dissolved in (¼ cup) warm water
5 g (1/8 oz) fine cooking salt
200 ml (7 fl oz) cold water
25 ml (¾  fl oz) Hojiblanca varietal extra virgin olive oil

7 g (¼ oz) skinned green pistachios, chopped
2 tbsp homemade thick tomato/onion sofrito
4 tbsp Hojiblanca varietal extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp chopped spring onion

Almond gazpacho sorbet:
250 g (8 oz) shelled and skinned almonds
2 garlic cloves, green shoots removed
2 thick slices country bread, crusts removed, soaked in cold water and squeezed dry
300 ml (10 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
50 ml (just over 1 ½ fl oz) grapeseed oil
150 ml (5 fl oz) cold water
Sherry vinegar, to taste
Salt, to taste
Sprig of fresh herbs

Yeast dough for the coca.
Make the pastry. Work the water, oil and fresh yeast into the flour by hand or with a mixer. Knead the dough until it is elastic and smooth. Leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Knead again and roll out thinly into a large rectangle to fit a baking sheet (the quantities given will make two cocas). Cover with a damp cloth to avoid drying out and leave to rise again for 20-30 minutes.

Spread a thin layer of pumpkin jam over the center, leaving the edges as a border, and bake in a medium oven (170ºC/350ºF) for 8 minutes or until just golden (I found the crust needed about 14 minutes at that temperature). Cool.

Marinate the filleted sardines in the vinegar, water and salt for 10 minutes or until just white on top. Dry them well on kitchen paper towels, fry quickly in olive oil to leave the centers slightly raw. Cut them across into slices revealing the white center. (As noted, this did not work for me.)

Mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette.

Mince or grind (blender or food processor) the raw almonds, garlic and dampened bread for the gazpacho. Whisk in the olive and grapeseed oils as if for a mayonnaise. Dilute with water to a gazpacho-like consistency (like thickened milk) and add salt and vinegar. Chill. Make into ice cream. It should be set but creamy at the time of serving.

To serve, lay the sardine slices over the pastry and dress them with a little Sherry vinegar and Maldon salt. Serve the coca, sliced, on plates with drops of the vinaigrette around the coca. Spoon a small scoop of gazpacho sorbet on top and decorate with a sprig of herbs.

Coca with sardines, vinaigrette, almond-gazpacho sorbet.

From the pumpkin patch.

***Pumpkin Jam
Dulce de Calabaza

(Recipe excerpted from MY KITCHEN IN SPAIN by Janet Mendel.)

The above coca recipe calls for angel’s hair or pumpkin jam. Angel’s hair, or cabello de angel, is a confitura, jam, made from cidra, Malabar gourd. Cooked with sugar, the gourd’s flesh separates into golden filaments—“angel’s hair.” (A little like spaghetti squash—but not the same.) Angel’s hair is used as a filling for empanadillas, little fried pies, beloved at Christmas time. Pumpkin jam is a good substitute, though the texture is different from angel’s hair.

You will need a small pumpkin or other winter squash weighing 2 1/2-3 pounds, to obtain 2 cups of cooked pulp. Cook it with very little water and drain well. Or, cut it in half, remove seeds and microwave, cut-side down, for 4 minutes. Turn, and microwave for 4 minutes longer.

2 cups pumpkin purée, well drained
2 cups sugar
1 strip lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3-inch cinnamon stick

Place the purée, sugar, lemon peel, cloves and cinnamon in a heavy pan. Place on heat, partially covered to prevent splattering, until mixture is bubbling. Reduce heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the purée is thickened to jam consistency, 20-25 minutes. (A heat disperser is useful to prevent the purée from scorching.)

Place in clean jars and seal. Cool completely, then refrigerate. Use within two weeks.

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